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Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman Urges Public to Report Elder Abuse

Rothman to Participate in White House Elder Justice Forum on Tuesday

6/12/2015 10:14:43 AM

For Immediate Release:

SAINT PAUL — In recognition of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on June 15, Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman is urging the public to value and protect the state’s seniors by reporting suspected financial abuse and exploitation. 

“Elder abuse comes in many forms, including physical maltreatment and neglect,” said Rothman. “But financial exploitation is considered the most common form of elder abuse, costing victims at least $2.9 billion annually. With a growing senior population and the aging of the Baby Boom generation, it’s become a leading crime of opportunity in the 21st century.”  

On Tuesday, Rothman will be in Washington, DC, to participate in the 2015 White House Elder Justice Forum with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. The Forum will focus on strategies to prevent and address elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. The Forum will provide input for the 2015 White Conference on Aging, a once-per-decade event that is scheduled for July 13.

Rothman said that seniors have become a prime target for crooks because they control an estimated 70 percent of the nation’s wealth. Age-related factors such as illnesses and cognitive impairment can make many older adults especially vulnerable to financial crimes and scams.

During the past four years, under Rothman’s leadership, the Commerce Department has stood strong to protect Minnesota seniors from financial fraud and abuse. 

The Department has built partnerships to educate and prevent senior abuse, including with health care professionals, social workers, CPAs and financial institution employees.  Commerce has worked to teach them how to identify the warning signs of financial fraud and ask their clients and customers important questions to prevent and stop financial exploitation.

The Commerce Department has also expanded its law enforcement partnerships with federal, state and local agencies to stop financial crimes. The Department has a professional staff, including a Fraud Bureau with law enforcement officers, who specialize in conducting investigations of suspected financial crimes that lead to both criminal prosecutions and civil legal actions.

“While one of the best lines of defense is prevention through education, a continuing challenge is that elder financial abuse is a crime that often goes unreported. Greater public awareness is needed to identify these crimes early on and help victims before they lose their hard-earned life savings.”

Rothman highlighted some possible warning signs of financial abuse of older adults:

  • Unusual financial transactions that are inconsistent with past behavior.
  • Uncharacteristic attempts to wire large sums of money.
  • Unusual inability to pay for routine services like utilities or insurance.
  • Closing of CDs or financial accounts without regard to penalties or fees.
  • Large or frequent financial withdrawals, including maximum cash withdrawals from ATMs.
  • A sudden change in the management of the older adult’s finances.

Rothman said that when these red flags show up, it may be a sign that someone is being victimized and it should be reported.

Minnesotans can report suspected elder financial fraud to the Commerce Department at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (statewide outside the Twin Cities metro area).

Minnesotans can also report suspected elder abuse, such as physical maltreatment or neglect, to their county’s designated Common Entry Point. To find a county’s Common Entry Point, people can call the Senior LinkAge Line at 1-800-333-2433.  If an older adult is in immediate physical danger, call 911.

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